It’s something we may take for granted, sometimes, but every year is an election year, and one thing animal advocates shouldn’t forget is that every election has profound implications for animals and for the fortunes of the animal welfare movement. Yesterday provided yet another reminder of this, as voters cast their ballots for statewide offices in New Jersey and Virginia, special elections to fill vacancies in the U.S. Congress, and thousands of municipal offices across the nation. We were once again engaged and active in this election, as we are in all of them—because we know animals only come out ahead when humane candidates do.
Our political endorsements do not come easy. The candidates who complete our questionnaires are asked to comment on a broad range of animal welfare issues. Often, our team meets with them in one-on-one interviews to get acquainted, learn something about their interests and gauge their understanding of our priorities. We review demographic data about their districts and past election results to evaluate their electability. Above all, for those who have previously held office, we carefully review their records on animal protection bills and policies.
When we’ve completed our analysis and determine who has earned our endorsement, we share our findings with our members and supporters, who look to us to provide guidance on political candidates whose names they’ll see on the ballot. In recent years, we’ve noticed a steady increase in candidates proactively seeking our endorsement in hopes of adding the HSLF to the list of their supporters.
In 2021, we endorsed dozens of candidates for offices at all levels. With your help, we flexed our collective political might to support these candidates with grassroots action, independent expenditures, and contributions from our political action committees.
At the federal level, the HSLF endorsed candidate Shontel Brown, who won a special election to the U.S. House to fill the vacancy created when Rep. Marcia Fudge resigned to become Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Brown currently serves on the Cuyahoga County Council, where she has worked to protect companion animals and preserve wildlife habitat.
Many of our endorsed candidates for state legislatures in Virginia and New Jersey were successful in their bids, too—with many of them declaring victory at the time of publication. State lawmakers play a critical role in advancing humane laws in their jurisdictions. Advancing measures at the state level is often a key component in advocating for federal policy reforms, as many federal bills—including those focusing on animal testing for cosmetics, the sale of new products containing fur, or the inclusion of a bittering agent in antifreeze to protect pets—emerged from consistent efforts to put those issues on the agenda via state legislation that often passed. Every victory in a state puts us one step closer to success at the federal level.
We’re active in municipal races as well. Endorsed candidate Eric Adams was overwhelmingly elected to be New York City’s newest Mayor. New York is home to many animal protection advocates and has long been at the forefront of public policy reforms in our sector. So has Adams, and he has a record to prove it — one that animal protection advocates around the country can celebrate. As Borough President, Adams spoke out against the use of elephants in circuses, supported the city’s efforts to ban foie gras, and opposed the city-funded slaughter of geese in New York’s Prospect Park. His Republican opponent, Curtis Silwa, also had animal protection issues on his agenda including assessing zoo welfare. In their final debate when asked to articulate something positive about their opponent, Adams nodded to Silwa’s companion animal advocacy and Silwa showed appreciation for Adams’ plant-based diet.
Changing the composition of elected bodies that consider and pass pro-animal legislation is only possible because of your continued support for HSLF. Every time you write letters to elected officials, make phone calls to voters, or sign our petitions you are making a difference for millions of animals. Your donations and PAC contributions also strengthen our hand in securing the election of humane-minded candidates in every cycle. In short, you have made HSLF the most important voice in American politics for animals. We are grateful to you for all that you’ve done, we’re energized by yesterday’s outcomes, and we’re ready to get right back to the work of advancing animal protection reforms in public policy at all levels.